Clarke and Clegg to establish commission on new Bill of Rights

If the United Kingdom pulled out of the European Convention on Human Rights – as some right-wing Tories are demanding – it would be the first country to do so since a junta of neo-fascist colonels seized power in Greece in the 1960s, the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke warned yesterday.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: This is still a man's world

There are men in parliament who cannot accept that they have to share space with politicians in bras

Leading article: Cameron's shaky grip

It is becoming harder to escape the growing realisation that the Prime Minister's supposed virtues might be vices. The collegiate chairman of the Cabinet, who delegates to his ministers and floats above the fray, is beginning to look like a broad-brush front man who has been forced into a series of U-turns to limit the damage caused by his inattention to detail. The well-meaning advocate of greater civic responsibility and collective sacrifice is beginning to look like someone who thinks that the Big Society is for the little people. The leader who wants to be the heir to Blair, but to learn from Tony Blair's self-confessed failure to press ahead with reform quickly enough in his first term, is beginning to look like someone urging his ministers to rush into changes that they have not thought through and about which he finds out too late.

Ministers delay badger cull policy

The Government is to delay its decision on whether to allow a cull of badgers in England as part of efforts to control TB in cattle.

Spelman's forest U-turn: 'We got this one wrong'

Caroline Spelman issued an extraordinary apology yesterday as she scrapped plans to sell off England's forests, telling MPs: "I'm sorry, we got this one wrong." The Environment Secretary's act of public contrition helped to calm the political storm the Government provoked with its controversial scheme to offload 637,000 acres of woodlands from public ownership. Tory MPs, who had joined a national protest campaign that united countryside groups and all shades of political opinion, rallied around the embattled minister as she confirmed the policy U-turn.

Protesters celebrate forests U-turn

Charities across the UK have welcomed the decision, announced today by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, to abandon controversial plans to privatise England's public forests.

Forest farce: Cameron to axe sell-off policy

The highly contentious plans for a £250m sale of England's forests will be abandoned because of the furious backlash that has hit the Government.

Michael McCarthy: Our climate isn't the only green concern

This Government has conflated "the environment" with climate change; the rest is forgotten

Rethink on sale of nature reserves

The Government is considering scrapping plans to sell many of England's nature reserves following a growing backlash against its proposed sale of all state-owned forests.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Greenest government ever – that's a sick joke

Some false ideas need robustly confronting, and never more so than when they are enshrined in slogans, as slogans can develop a power of their own, almost an independent life; and such a one is the idea that the administration of David Cameron is going to be "the greenest government ever." This phrase, first uttered by the Prime Minister in a speech to civil servants last May, has now become a mantra and is regularly trotted out as an earnest of the Government's good environmental intentions, almost as if it had been a manifesto commitment. Yet, based on what the Government is actually doing, it is so far from the truth as to be risible, and it needs to be demolished; or better, it needs to be shot with a silver bullet and buried in a lead coffin at a crossroads with a stake through its heart, just in case any minister has the brass neck to try to resurrect it.

The Sketch: Labour's druid heralds vocal fightback to save England's ancient trees

The first time I was aware of Mary Creagh she was a woman who looked like a boy. "Best of both worlds," the sketch said. "It's the third way. She'll prosper in New Labour." Then she ran a campaign for the regulation of freelance dance teachers, or having to get a license to smack your children, or – I've got it now – making it illegal for bathwater to be hotter than 38 degrees. There or thereabouts. She thanked me for my support, I remember. She had talent, you see.

Britain's forests are being sold off - and nature lovers are up in arms

Peter Marren meets the people whose livelihoods may face the axe

Water meters could be made compulsory in all British homes

Ministers hope to cut use, but Tory MP admits that the vulnerable may see 'significant rises' in bills

Dale Farm: The battle to save Britain’s biggest traveller community

The entrance to Dale Farm looks more like a fortress than a settlement these days. The largest traveller site in Europe, which sits on the outskirts of Basildon, is preparing for its biggest stand-off yet.

Leading article: Safeguard the wood and the trees

It is a measure of the lack of trust in modern politics that no one seems to believe the Environment Secretary when she says that England's forests will be safe in the hands of private owners if the Government goes ahead with selling them off. A sale would be bad for wildlife and restrict public access to the land, the public feels. The minister, Caroline Spelman, says measures will be put in place to prevent that. But 75 per cent of voters polled oppose the plan to sell off half our forests in the largest change of land ownership since the Second World War. And there is more to this than a romantic attachment to the idea of Britain's ancient woodlands.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?